St Andrew Undershaft

Here is St Andrew Undershaft, constructed in 1532. It survived both the Great Fire of London, and the Blitz. Next to it is a branch of Lloyds Bank. Behind, with its huge reflective walls, is the Scalpel Building, 52 Lime Street EC3, finished this year. Reflected in the walls of the Scalpel is 30 St Mary Axe, The Gherkin, finished in 2003.

On the West side of the Square, diminished by the monumental canopy of the Leadenhall Building, is a Victorian statue entitled “NAVIGATION”. Navigation is a big strong man, inadequately clad for Northern seas, but he doesn’t mind. In his right hand he grasps the ship’s wheel. In his left arm, he cradles a ship. Next to him, incongrouously, is a multi-coloured wooden column. At first I thought it was some kind of antenna. Then perhaps it might be a 21st century version of a Barber’s Pole, no longer red and white only, but now yellow too. But there is no Barbers Shop. I was just about to conclude it must be “Art”, when I saw the explanatory notice, low down and in shadow. It is a Maypole.

“Until the 16th Century, a famous maypole used to be put up on feast days at the corner of St Mary Axe. Its shaft overtopped the original church, which got its name St Andrew Undershaft as a result. When not in use, the shaft was stored in an alley near here, which became known as Shafts Court”.

“NAVIGATION” and the Maypole.

About 45 minutes on location, finished at home. It was very cold. Colours used: Mars Yellow, Perinine Orange, Prussian Blue, Perylene Maroon. The sky is dilute Prussian Blue.

Here is work in progress and my location:

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